My favorite thing about humanitarian work,” says Katie Walther, co-founder of Humanitize Expeditions (HE), “is the feeling that I am a component in the process of blessing the lives of others.” She agreed to answer some questions from downtown Antigua, Guatemala.
Humanitarian work came naturally for Katie. She started doing international humanitarian work in 2004. “As my children grew up and became independent I found I had skills and a desire to use that energy to serve others. As a professional nurse I had been paid to do humanitarian work as I served and cared for others throughout my career. I had served in the Army Nurse Corps and done volunteer work in my community. There was no one event but rather a lifetime of observing the good that is done and the results obtained when we serve each other.”
After several years of humanitarian trips, Katie co-founded Humanitize Expeditions (HE), an organization dedicated to helping adults and teens serve in humanitarian capacities internationally.
Katie describes the beginnings of HE this way, “My co-founder, business partner and the brains and inspiration behind Humanitize Expeditions is a young wife, and mother, Jamie Maddox. Jamie has experience working with youth professionally and came to me in 2011 wanting to do ‘something’ in the humanitarian field and invited me to work with her. That ‘something’ evolved into what is now Humanitize Expeditions. When we sat down to develop our vision statement we decided that the world was full of wonderful and not-so-wonderful NGOs (charities) and that we did not have a grand idea that required that we add yet another project to the list. For example, there are over 10,000 NGOs working in Haiti. In looking at our strengths and the needs we saw, we made the decision to recruit, prepare, and provide humanitarian teams in the fields of medicine and education to NGOs who matched our goals and were in need of volunteer help. We are currently working to help charitable organizations with projects in Haiti and Guatemala.”
The HE mission statement says, “By providing volunteer service to the poor and needy, participants will gain integrity, earn self-esteem, and broaden their respect and acceptance of other cultures. The world will never look the same.” Katie explains that further by saying, “Although I love the feeling of love that comes when I serve those in need, my favorite part is when I can help facilitate the change of heart and personal growth of the volunteers we recruit. Their world expands and their lives never look the same again. In our final discussion of the week, we challenge everyone to make a personal goal based on their experiences. I get to hear and then watch throughout the coming year how those goals are achieved. Some learn or improve their foreign language skills, some search out and find volunteer opportunities in their own communities, some return the next year with friends and family members, some fund raise for a needed surgery or to send a child on to school. I have seen nurses, doctors, dietitians, teachers, college and pre-med students, and even high school students change their focus, return to school for more education, or develop skills that will allow them to serve in a different or more meaningful way. I personally have made new and dear friends while serving alongside people that inspire me to do better.”
Want to learn more about getting involved internationally? Visit humanitizeexpeditions.com to see the projects going on. You can email Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com to talk about getting involved as an adult or a teen.